You can win yourself a pair of pioneering new comfort shoes from Joya in our free to enter prize draw. But if you can’t tell the difference between your ‘FitFlops’, rocker shoes and MBTs, here’s our handy guide.
In 1990, so the story goes, Swiss engineer Karl Müller studied the Masai tribe in East Africa and remarked at their good posture, lack of joint pain and (presumably) their lithe, cellulite-free legs. A nomadic tribe, the Masai are accustomed to travelling long distances barefoot in the sand, literally carrying their world on their shoulders.
Müller’s invention, Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) as the name suggests, simulates those conditions underfoot albeit on a considerably firmer terrain. The large, instantly recognisable ‘rolling sole’ creates instability, which, in theory at least, causes the body to stabilise itself by recruiting muscles that would otherwise be at rest whilst walking.
In 1996 Müller founded Swiss Masai and began to market his concept. It worked. The popularity of the patented design sent a myriad of shoe and sportswear manufacturers clamouring to create a slew of imitation ‘Rocker shoes’. Today the market for these so-called ‘FitFlops’ is huge and fiercely competitive, thanks largely to a host of celebrity endorsements and health claims.
As more manufacturers wade in, each subsequent iteration sports new and improved (often soon to be disproved) health claims: from shaping and toning, to improving posture and relieving pain. Now a new manufacturer is trying something completely different and perhaps, making the boldest claim of all. On the homepage of joyashoes.com a statement reads: ‘The world’s most comfortable shoe’.
The site’s founder goes on to explain: ‘Joya is like flying, but the closest we can get to flying is jumping on a trampoline, because we can float in thin air for a very brief moment. Being able to experience this feeling every day was the goal of the Joya Shoe.’
At first glance, Joya shoes bear some resemblance to rocker shoes, but they actually function completely differently. MBT, Ryn and many other rocker shoes are built on a very rigid, curved polyurethane (PU) midsole. They are stiff and heavier than most shoes. Joya shoes have an extremely soft, dual-density PU midsole that provides unsurpassed cushioning. The shoe is lightweight and flexible, allowing your feet to move freely – similar to a barefoot experience. Also, when you stand in Joya shoes, you feel flat with the ground – you are not balancing on the apex of a rocker. Which all means that you don’t have to learn how to walk in them.
The man behind the brand? Karl Müller junior. Following in his father’s footsteps the young businessman’s ambition is certainly sky-high; becoming ‘number one in comfortable shoes’.
‘I was the test pilot for my Dad’s shoes. Although he values my ideas, I always thought independently. A product that brings joy to young cool-looking people. This was the dream in the back of my head….’
In a world of fake ‘FitFlops’ Müller Jnr’s dream of innovative well-being shoes is a singularly unique one. Acknowledging that the health debate surrounding toning shoes will inevitably roll on, Joya seems at ease downplaying the possible health benefits of their products and focus instead on their sleeker design and unbeatable comfort. We’ve tried them and we’re inclined to agree.
If you’d like to walk a mile in Joya’s shoes and judge for yourself, Human Kinetics is giving you the chance to win a pair worth over £125. To enter, just email the editor with the subject ‘Joya Shoes Competition’ before the 31st July 2011. We’ll then draw one lucky entrant from out of the Human Kinetics hat, to receive a pair in their size. Good Luck, but remember, to have a chance of winning we must receive your email before midnight on the 31st July 2011.